The 3 best women's running shoes for bunions
When it comes to running shoes, a comfortable fit is always important but it's even more critical when you have bunions (aka a protrusion on the joint of the big toe that can happen when the bones shift out of place). To learn more about the features that make up the best running shoes for bunions, I emailed two New York-based podiatrists — Bruce Pinker, DPM, of Progressive Foot Care, and Mohammad Rimawi, DPM, of Grand Central Footcare.
One of the biggest challenges with bunions can be finding a shoe that fits properly, especially around the toe joint. "As the forefoot widens due to the presence of a [bunion], footwear can fit more tightly, leading to discomfort and difficulty while ambulating," Dr. Pinker explains. For this reason, both doctors agree that a wide toe box is key. "Due to the nature of bunions, the big toe is more prone to pressure pain and aggravation, especially when inside tight fitting shoe gear," Dr. Rimawi says. "A wide toe box will help alleviate some of those symptoms by accommodating for the boney bump caused by the bunion."
Flexibility is another important feature, both in the toe box and around the shank. If a shoe is too stiff, your foot will rub and chafe more, causing pain and potential blistering, Dr. Rimawi explains. A flexible toe box, on the other hand, allows the big toe to move more freely while you run, helping to reduce irritation.
That said, your running shoes should also offer stability, Dr. Pinker says. Not only that, but the midsole also needs to have adequate cushioning and the shoe must fit properly. It's common to find that shoes fit well when you're trying them on but start hurting once you start running in them, Dr. Rimawi says. "This is due to the fact that the foot tends to swell during physical activities, or just as the day progresses," he explains. "To combat this, it would be wise to purchase shoes as the day comes to an end."
Dr. Pinker agrees that fit is important, noting that when it's not accurate, problems can occur. "One's gait or running pattern can be altered by an inflamed bunion region, which can possibly lead to a myriad of foot issues, such as ankle sprains, foot sprains, plantar fasciitis, tendinitis, pain, and swelling."
With these considerations and recommendations from both doctors in mind, I've rounded up the best running shoes for bunions below.
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1. The one that's suitable for most runners
Designed with a wide, flexible toe box and excellent cushioning, these New Balance sneakers make great running shoes for bunions. With features that come recommended by both Dr. Pinker and Dr. Rimawi, they are soft yet stable with shock-absorbing midsoles and mesh fabric for breathability. Best of all, they're available in a diverse range of sizes, including wide and extra-wide options.
One reviewer wrote: "I have narrow heels and wide forefoot due to bunions. These shoes are comfortable and have a ton of space in the toe box. I use them mainly for walking on concrete/pavement since they don't have the sticky tread for trails."
- Available sizes: 6 - 13 (including narrow, wide, and select extra-wide)
2. The one that also works for high arches
Another pair that comes recommended by both podiatrists, these Brooks Ghost 12 shoes are some of the best sneakers for bunions. Several reviewers on Amazon noted that they also work well if you have high arches. These shoes are made with high-quality cushioning that's incredibly soft, according to reviewers, yet still offers stability. Available in both regular and wide sizes, they have mesh panels that make them breathable to help prevent feet from overheating.
One reviewer wrote: Toe box is roomy to accommodate my bunion! [...] They are super comfortable! It feels like you are running on a cloud! This was my first Brooks purchase... I will definitely purchase Brooks again!"
- Available sizes: 6 - 12 (regular and wide)
3. The one that also works for flat feet
Built with shock-absorbing midsoles and comfy-but-stable cushioning, these ASICS Gel-Foundation 13 sneakers are a dependable choice if you have both bunions and flat feet. They're designed with the brand's "Guidance Trusstic System," which helps keep your gait consistent while also providing sufficient structure in the mid-foot. The toe box is wide enough to accommodate bunions, and the material (which has mesh portions for ventilation) is adequately flexible.
One reviewer wrote: "I am very happy that I finally found shoes to work out in that cushion my bunions."
- Available sizes: 6 - 11 (regular and wide)
Bruce Pinker, DPM, of Progressive Foot Care
Mohammad Rimawi, DPM, of Grand Central Footcare